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Archive for September 17th, 2008

A reading from the book of Brian:

As we’ve learned over the last several years, markets are defined by conversations and those discussions reveal everything about perception and awareness. We must, at some level, continually listen to, and identify, and join relevant discussions, even at the risk of creating less original content on our host platforms. Yes, that’s right. Participation isn’t only defined by producing content. It’s also about supporting and responding to the thoughts and work of others.

Through participation, we earn relationships and hopefully build authority by contributing helpful advice, information and insight. We also learn more about the subjects in which we’re interested, creating a deeper understanding of the dynamics associated with not only the subject matter, but also the community view and reaction to it. In the process, we establish and cultivate our online brand, reputation, and associated expertise that is only fortified through every new piece of content we publish and every comment we share.

If you aren’t already familiar with Brian Solis and his Pr 2.0 blog, go check it out. Subscribe to the RSS and add it PR 2.0 to your blogroll. Fantastic insights in every post.

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You would think that we wouldn’t need to bring this up anymore, but I have noticed recently that some folks still have a little trouble separating Vision from Strategy, and Strategy from Tactics. So for everyone’s benefit, let’s go over the differences between the three, this time courtesy of the very bright Christopher S. Penn:

Vision: If you don’t know why you’re in business, if you don’t know why you get up in the morning every day, you don’t have vision. You don’t have a reason, you can’t answer the question of why.

When the alarm rings at 4:55 AM every weekday, I get up and go to the Student Loan Network with the overarching reason of going to help someone get an education. I believe in education. I believe that education on the whole makes things better, makes society better, and in true enlightened self interest, makes my world better. Smarter people around me means better conversation, better ideas, better friends. Smarter coworkers and colleagues means higher paid colleagues and my share of the tax burden decreases proportionally the smarter and more talented everyone else is.

If you can’t answer why your company exists (besides make money), then you have no vision.

Strategy: Strategy is knowing the destination. Knowing where you want to go, knowing what the goal is. Strategy is having defined, achievable goals that are in alignment with your vision.

If my vision is to help someone get a better education, my strategy is to develop trusted relationships with that someone so that we mutually benefit. I vend products and services that I believe in, that will legitimately help my customer achieve a better education, and I am compensated in return. If I say I want to build one million trusted relationships with customers to help them afford an education, that’s a strategy. That’s where I’m going.

If you can’t answer where your company is going, then you have no strategy.

Tactics: Knowing how to get there, how to get to our destination, how to achieve on a turn by turn basis the mission of getting the van to the end point. I need a map.

If my strategy is to build one million trusted relationships with customers, then I need allies. I need to develop relationships with influencers and force multipliers who can help me share things like the Financial Aid Podcast. I need tools like Blue Sky Factory’s Publicaster email service, I need techniques like search engine optimization, I need great products and services that are worth talking about so that others are so inspired that they want to talk about them without my goading them to.

If you can’t answer how your company is going to actually get to the destination, then you have no tactics.

Let’s review:

Vision: Why are we even getting in the van?
Strategy: Where are we going?
Tactics: How are we going to get there?

Finally, a couple of key mistakes I’ve seen especially in social media.

“It’s all about the community!” Wrong. That’s like saying, “Put more people in the van!” So what? Now you have a van full of people. Do you know why they are there at all? Do you know where you’re going? Or are you just in a van with a bunch of people hoping someone else drives ahead of you and you can tag along?

“It’s all about driving traffic to our shiny 2.0 widgety trendsetting flexible scalable social media hub!” Wrong. That’s like saying, “Drive the van faster!” So what? You’re driving the van really fast. Do you have any idea where the van is actually going? Drive the van faster is both useless and dangerous, especially if faster means into a telephone pole.

“It’s all about being remarkable!” Wrong. You’ve got a nice van. A really nice van. A tricked out van. So what? The product is not the marketing. Yes, absolutely, taking a road trip in a nice luxury limo will be a lot more pleasant than taking a road trip in a beaten up Yugo. But if you don’t know where you’re going, you have no map, and you don’t know why, all you have is a nice van, and while it’s remarkable, you’re still not going anywhere.

Remember: why? where? how? and you’ll know vision, strategy, and tactics.

Simplicity at its best.

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Don’t call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear…

“Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J

As I’ve already lamented, moving the brandbuilder from blogspot to wordpress several months ago effectively destroyed its search engine relevance: Years of hyperlinks, trackbacks and traffic were left behind at the old url, and the brandbuilder’s new web address essentially rolled the odometer back to zero. The impact on my readership wasn’t too bad – you guys quickly found your way to the new URL and RSS, and daily visits went back to normal after a few short weeks – but solid daily traffic alone can’t rebuild my technorati and other search engine relevance overnight. It’s going to take time to get back to the various Marketing blog rankings put forth by Technorati, Viral Garden, Power 150, etc. I am just going to have to be patient and let technology do its thing. Grrrr.

That being said, Buzz Canuck‘s Sean Moffitt may just have tossed the (new) BrandBuilder blog its first bone by including me in his Ryder Cup of Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral dream team:

With the advent of golf’s best entertainment showcase about to take place, I thought I would provide the WOM version of the famed Ryder Cup tournament.

Why not pit the top 36 bloggers from the USA that speak on the subject of word of mouth, viral, buzz, influence and the engaging brand against the top 36 international bloggers that muse on the same subject?

Unlike some of the social media- and tech dedicated marketing and media bloggers, these broad-minded bloggers and company heads (below) have distinguished themselves by helping visitors understand how ideas spread, online and offline, through a range of different strategies and tactics and each recognizes the importance of having brands getting noticed, talked about and advocated in a 2.0 world. In my opinion, they are much closer to explaining the purpose and benefits of a range of new media, web 2.0, co-creation, social networks and other web, cultural and social phenomenon.

For my social media appetite, they are also among the best at understanding the art and science of buzz, not getting too hung up on the Silicon Valley gossip, the backslapping self-promotion (with the race exception), the technology minutiae, the journalistic ethic or political meaning behind peer-generated ideas, content and advocacy.

To my knowledge, no one has yet built the all star list of word of mouth savvy blogs – too often our best are muddled with overarching marketing categories (The Power 150) or not fully descriptive, catch-all social media lists. So here is my list, I’ve visited and read them all – my apologies to some of the non-english speaking International squad (there are limits to my comprehension even with pictures) and to some inevitable oversights.

To see my name next to such industry thought leaders like Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell, Andy Sernovitz, Sam Decker, Joseph Jaffe, John Moore, Mack Collier, Tom Asacker, Corante and Marketing 2.0’s very own Francois Gossieaux, and fellow Greenville resident and favorite sparring partner Spike Jones – to name but a few – is pretty humbling. I am very honored.

Check the whole list here. It’s pretty solid.

Segue:Imagine what would happen if you put us all in one room? Seriously. One firm. One think tank. One agency. All of us there. We could be like The Justice League of the Marketing world. Scary.

I definitely raise my glass to Sean Moffitt’s 100% non-scientific method for generating the list. Well played, sir. Well played. Thanks for marking the start of my return to “the lists.” (The check’s in the mail, buddy.)

Have a great, internet fame filled day, everyone! 😉

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